Lockdown Reading Culture at Grangemouth High

Girl reading

When schools first closed in March 2020, many exciting reading plans and projects at Grangemouth High School were put on hold, but staff were keen to adapt their practice to ensure as many pupils as possible were still able to enjoy the benefits of reading for pleasure at home. School Librarian Anne Ngabia shares their experience and how they are continuing to promote reading online.

GrangeBraes- two schools, one club!

The one good thing about sharing schools is being able to have a shared book club! Every summer pupils from Grangemouth High School and The Braes High School book clubs would come together to visit the Edinburgh Book Festival. They had started to get to know each other and to look forward to this annual treat.

Due to Lockdown this had to be cancelled, so we came together online instead! Teams gave us a means to put this book club together virtually every week! They shared their thoughts on what they were reading- and watching. As there were no timetabled lessons, we could pick a time which suited everyone.

The pupils then created The Great GrangeBraes Book-share, by filming themselves catching, showing and then throwing onwards their favourite book. This showed pupils not just sharing books within their own schools, but sharing books from school to school.

A dose of Harry Potter daily

Early on during lockdown - after some discussion previously at Book clubs over our favourite Harry Potter books, and MUCH talk about how the movie adaptations measured up - we all decided we needed to read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire… to set the record straight! Luckily J.K. Rowling’s agent released copyright permissions to enable us to do this. Invitations were sent out to both schools, with a large uptake initially from ASC teachers and pupils. As time went on, more pupils from other book clubs joined to listed to their ‘daily dose’. I soon discovered that reading aloud for up to 40 minutes at a time does take a toll on your voice, so I had a handy bag of throat lozenges to keep me going!

The club developed beyond just the story! Recipes were posted relating usually to the chapter we were reading (a cook book has since been compiled with recipes from the Harry Potter club – and from other library clubs!), ideas for patronuses, wands, Harry Potter gifts received for birthdays, quizzes, word searches all provided by pupils and staff. It was a truly joyful experience watching how pupils and staff engaged with this club.

Comments from both staff and pupils were positive. Many staff enjoyed the routine of listening at the same time, as they could arrange their day around it, finding it relaxing: a way to de-stress. A bit of health and wellbeing!

This time around…

Several things which came out of the last lockdown endured into regular school. We still use Teams to post book club ideas and comments, and we still post Harry Potter items to the Team. The Harry Potter Team restarted on Monday 18 January at Grangemouth for ASC pupils whose timetables allows for a ‘daily dose’. Staff feel pupils gain so much through story, vocabulary, concentration -and just delight in listening,  Luckily J.K. Rowling’s agent has again given limited permissions. Unfortunately due to pupils now working to timetable, other pupils who may like to join in cannot… but I am working on it!

You can find more ideas to help your pupils access books from home and to keep your reading culture alive in our lockdown reading culture resources.

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